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-On Gaulstown House



'Tis so old and so ugly, and yet so convenient,
You're sometimes in pleasure, though often in pain in't;
'Tis so large, you may lodge a few friends with ease in't,
You may turn and stretch at your length if you please in't;
'Tis so little, the family live in a press in't,
And poor Lady Betty[1] has scarce room to dress in't;
'Tis so cold in the winter, you can't bear to lie in't,
And so hot in the summer, you're ready to fry in't;
'Tis so brittle, 'twould scarce bear the weight of a tun,
Yet so staunch, that it keeps out a great deal of sun;
'Tis so crazy, the weather with ease beats quite through it,
And you're forced every year in some part to renew it;
'Tis so ugly, so useful, so big, and so little,
'Tis so staunch and so crazy, so strong and so brittle,
'Tis at one time so hot, and another so cold,
It is part of the new, and part of the old;
It is just half a blessing, and just half a curse--
wish then, dear George, it were better or worse.

[Footnote 1: Daughter of the Earl of Drogheda, and married to George Rochfort, Esq.--F.]

The Country Life




The Baron, Lord Chief Baron Rochfort.
George, his eldest son.
Nim, his second son, John, so called from his love of hunting.
Dan, Mr. Jackson, a parson.
Gaulstown, the Baron's seat.
Sheridan, a pedant and pedagogue.
Delany, chaplain to Sir Constantine Phipps, when Lord Chancellor
of Ireland.
Dragon, the name of the boat on the canal.
Dean Percival and his wife, friends of the Baron and his lady.

   Thalia, tell, in sober lays,
How George, Nim, Dan, Dean,[1] pass their days;
And, should our Gaulstown's wit grow fallow,
Yet Neget quis carmina Gallo?
Here (by the way) by Gallus mean I
Not Sheridan, but friend Delany.
Begin, my Muse! First from our bowers
We sally forth at different hours;
At seven the Dean, in night-gown drest,
Goes round the house to wake the rest;
At nine, grave Nim and George facetious,
Go to the Dean, to read Lucretius;[2]
At ten my lady comes and hectors
And kisses George, and ends our lectures;
And when she has him by the neck fast,
Hauls him, and scolds us, down to breakfast.
We squander there an hour or more,
And then all hands, boys, to the oar;
All, heteroclite Dan except,
Who never time nor order kept,
But by peculiar whimseys drawn,
Peeps in the ponds to look for spawn:
O'ersees the work, or Dragon rows,
Or mars a text, or mends his hose;
Or--but proceed we in our journal--
At two, or after, we return all:
From the four elements assembling,
Warn'd by the bell, all folks come trembling,
From airy garrets some descend,
Some from the lake's remotest end;
My lord and Dean the fire forsake,
Dan leaves the earthy spade and rake;
The loiterers quake, no corner hides them
And Lady Betty soundly chides them.
Now water brought, and dinner done;
With "Church and King" the ladies gone.
Not reckoning half an hour we pass
In talking o'er a moderate glass.
Dan, growing drowsy, like a thief
Steals off to doze away his beef;
And this must pass for reading Hammond--
While George and Dean go to backgammon.
George, Nim, and Dean, set out at four,
And then, again, boys, to the oar.
But when the sun goes to the deep,
(Not to disturb him in his sleep,
Or make a rumbling o'er his head,
His candle out, and he a-bed,)
We watch his motions to a minute,
And leave the flood when he goes in it.
Now stinted in the shortening day,
We go to prayers and then to play,
Till supper comes; and after that
We sit an hour to drink and chat.
'Tis late--the old and younger pairs,
By Adam[3] lighted, walk up stairs.
The weary Dean goes to his chamber;
And Nim and Dan to garret clamber,
So when the circle we have run,
The curtain falls and all is done.

I might have mention'd several facts, Like episodes between the acts; And tell who loses and who wins, Who gets a cold, who breaks his shins; How Dan caught nothing in his net, And how the boat was overset. For brevity I have retrench'd How in the lake the Dean was drench'd: It would be an exploit to brag on, How valiant George rode o'er the Dragon; How steady in the storm he sat, And saved his oar, but lost his hat: How Nim (no hunter e'er could match him) Still brings us hares, when he can catch 'em; How skilfully Dan mends his nets; How fortune fails him when he sets; Or how the Dean delights to vex The ladies, and lampoon their sex: I might have told how oft Dean Perceval Displays his pedantry unmerciful, How haughtily he cocks his nose, To tell what every schoolboy knows: And with his finger and his thumb, Explaining, strikes opposers dumb: But now there needs no more be said on't, Nor how his wife, that female pedant, Shews all her secrets of housekeeping: For candles how she trucks her dripping; Was forced to send three miles for yeast, To brew her ale, and raise her paste; Tells everything that you can think of, How she cured Charley of the chincough; What gave her brats and pigs the measles, And how her doves were killed by weasels; How Jowler howl'd, and what a fright She had with dreams the other night.

But now, since I have gone so far on, A word or two of Lord Chief Baron; And tell how little weight he sets On all Whig papers and gazettes; But for the politics of Pue,[4] Thinks every syllable is true: And since he owns the King of Sweden [5] Is dead at last, without evading, Now all his hopes are in the czar; "Why, Muscovy is not so far; Down the Black Sea, and up the Straits, And in a month he's at your gates; Perhaps from what the packet brings, By Christmas we shall see strange things." Why should I tell of ponds and drains, What carps we met with for our pains; Of sparrows tamed, and nuts innumerable To choke the girls, and to consume a rabble? But you, who are a scholar, know How transient all things are below, How prone to change is human life! Last night arrived Clem[6] and his wife-- This grand event has broke our measures; Their reign began with cruel seizures; The Dean must with his quilt supply The bed in which those tyrants lie; Nim lost his wig-block, Dan his Jordan, (My lady says, she can't afford one,) George is half scared out of his wits, For Clem gets all the dainty bits. Henceforth expect a different survey, This house will soon turn topsyturvy; They talk of farther alterations, Which causes many speculations.

[Footnote 1: Dr. Swift.--F.]

[Footnote 2: For his philosophy and his exquisite verse, rather than for his irreligion, which never seems to have affected Swift.--W. E. B.]

[Footnote 3: The butler.--F.]

[Footnote 4: A Tory news-writer. See "Prose Works," vii, p. 347.--W. E. B.]

[Footnote 5: Charles XII, killed by a musket ball, when besieging a "petty fortress" in Norway in the winter of 1718.--W. E. B.]

[Footnote 6: Mr. Clement Barry, called, in the notes appended to "Gulliveriana," p. 12, chief favourite and governor of Gaulstown.--W. E. B.]

Jonathan Swift

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